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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Good Flicks You Might Have Missed…

Hi Everyone!
Here are  some more movies from our collection that you might enjoy; some new, some older. Let me know what you think!



The Wackness

The Wackness (2008) Poster

A pot-dealing teen forms an unlikely friendship with a psychiatrist as they exchange marijuana for therapy sessions.  Starring Josh Peck, Mary Kate Olsen, Famke Janssen, Method Man, and Ben Kingsley. Rated R.  Comedy/Drama. 2008.

Game Change

Game Change (2012) Poster

A searing, behind-the-scenes look at John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, from the decision to select Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate to the ticket's ultimate defeat in the general election just sixty days later. Told primarily through the eyes of senior McCain strategist Steve Schmidt, who originally championed Palin and later came to regret the choice.  Starring Ed Harris, Peter MacNicol, Jamey Sheridan, Woody Harrelson, and Julianne Moore. Rated TV-MA.  Biography/Drama. 2012.

The Hedgehog 

The Hedgehog (2009) Poster 

Inspired by the beloved New York Times bestseller The Elegance of the Hedgehog, this is the timely story of Paloma, a young girl bent on ending it all on her upcoming twelfth birthday. Using her father's old camcorder to chronicle the hypocrisy she sees in adults, she begins to learn about life from the grumpy building concierge, Renee Michel. Through this and another friendship with a new Japanese tenant, Paloma begins to understand that there are allies to be found beneath the prickliest of exteriors. Starring Ariane Ascaride, Togo Igawa, Josiane Balasko, Anne Brochet, and Garance Le Guillermic. Not Rated. Drama.  In French with English subtitles. 2009

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Barefoot Contessa at My House

Can you have your cake and eat it too?  Yes, I think so.  Here at the Library I oversee the cookbook collection, and then sometimes get to bake from some of those selfsame books for our staff meetings.   I don't have to personally buy the books, but you and I get to use them whenever we want.

I’ve been cooking and baking from Ina Garten’s new Barefoot Contessa book, Foolproof:  Recipes You Can Trust, and every recipe is, in fact, delicious.  But you can’t eat from these recipes every day.  Too rich!  Too fattening!  And sometimes too expensive, too.

(Shrimp) Mac and Cheese
This book has three recipes for lobster, and I don’t know about you, but that is a special occasion recipe for me. I made the Lobster Mac and Cheese and substituted shrimp for a more affordable option.  It was outrageously rich, so full of cheese that you could only eat a small portion, but I loved every bite. 

LOL - who cut a piece out of the middle?
Then I baked Chocolate Chip Blondies – again, very chocolately, buttery and delicious – I put the leftovers in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them.  I have to confess sneaking one to savor – still frozen - after dinner each evening in front of the telly.

Before and...
My husband requested carrot cake for his birthday in December, but that just did not happen.  Birthdays near the holidays should just not be allowed – too much else goes on!  But I did make Ina’s Carrot Cake with Ginger Frosting for Superbowl for him.  You really cannot beat Ina’s baking recipes, they are just uniformly superlative versions of the tried and true.

The German Chocolate Cupcakes were wonderfully balanced with a tangy sour cream buttermilk cocoa cake and thick sweet coconut pecan frosting on top.  But again, very indulgent and filling.

So pretty!
For Valentine’s Day I baked the shortbread based Raspberry Crumble Bars, deep red and beautiful and seductively delicious.  Help!  My diet is shot to pieces.  I have to stop baking from this book!

This morning, before work, I rolled out the refrigerated dough I had made yesterday for the French Apple Tart from Ina’s Back to Basics Cookbook.  Slicing up Granny Smith apples and sprinkling them with sugar and butter, and then glazing the tart after baking with pear jam, this was a less crazily sinful dessert than the four from Foolproof, but equally delicious.

All of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes are outstanding not only because of their ease of preparation, but because of their quality and simplicity.  The ingredients are few and easy to find, the directions are straightforward, and the results are consistently wonderful.

Easier than it looks: crisp flaky pastry topped with sweet tart apples.
French Apple Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ sticks (12 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup ice water
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled
½ cup white sugar
½ stick (4 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
½ cup apricot or pear jam
1 Tablespoon Calvados, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whirl the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.  Add the cubed butter, and process until the butter is mixed up into uniform crumbs.  Add the ice water and process 10 or 12 times until just starting to come together in  a ball.  Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and a baggie, and pop in fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

On a floured surface, roll out dough into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle.  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan with sides. 

Cut each apple in half, and with a melon baller, cut out the cores.  Slice each half into ¼ inch thick slices.  Layer the slices diagonally across the dough in rows.  Sprinkle with the sugar.  Dot with small cubes of butter.  Bake in the oven 45 minutes to one hour, until the pastry and some of the apples are golden brown.  You will know it’s done by the lovely smell of the pastry.  Some of the sugar and apple juices will have run off the tart and turned black in the pan.  This is as it should be – don’t panic.

Loosen the tart from the blackend parchment and slide the whole thing off onto a clean sheet of parchment paper and then put the tart with the clean parchment back onto the warm pan.  Let cool 10 minutes. 

Add the liquor to the jam and heat up gently in microwave.  Brush the mixture all over the apples and pastry so that it is shiny and beautiful.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cut into squares and pretend you’re in Paris!  The diet? – you can diet tomorrow.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Baker, Frustrated Dieter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

E-Books - The Next Generation

Reading E-Books just got easier.  Overdrive Read  is the Next Generation Digital Library Platform provided by the Libraries of Middlesex as ELibraryNJ.  Say good-bye to downloading software and authorizing IDs . You can read your E-Books in your browser on your computer, iPad, iPod, iPhone or Android.

Go to our webpage  and click on E-BooksSign In and select  the Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium as your library,  enter your library card number and PIN.  Contact us for help if you are unsure of these.

Just point to a book cover to see if it is availableand then click on it.  Click on the Borrow button to check it out. When you are ready to read it click Go to Bookshelf and choose Read (in your Browser).  If you want to read the book offline remember to use your browsers Bookmark command.  This way you can read it without Internet access.  Click here and learn more about Overdrive Read and try a sample.

Overdrive Read is available for iOS 5.o or higher and Android  2.3. The NOOK and original Kindle Fire use custom browsers. Overdrive is currently working on adding support for both, so keep checking back for updates.

 Try it and let us know how you like it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Superbowl/"Slow Cooker Revolution"

Pulled Pork and Pickles (carrot slaw not required)

Plan Ahead for Superbowl – Slow Cooker Revolution

Have you heard the saying there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes?  Here’s a great one to add to your repertoire:  Beginner’s Pulled Pork. 

This book, the Slow Cooker Revolution, a product of the America’s Test Kitchen juggernaut, aims to take old recipes and bring them up to the higher standards of today’s discriminating diner.  As such, some of the recipes ask you to sauté or finish in the oven or broiler in order to get a better result.  This recipe, however, is blissfully simple.  Prepare a spice rub for the pork, pop in the fridge overnight, put in slow cooker, cook all day, shred a little – Done! 

The results are magnificent- the meat itself is meltingly tender, a little bit crispy about the edges, with a tangy, gently spicy sauce.  Although the time to prepare is short, the time to cook is long, so you must plan ahead. 

Once prepared, the pulled pork will sit happily in the slow cooker and be ready for hungry guests to make their own sandwiches any time, so that you can enjoy the Superbowl game – and/or the commercials! as you prefer.

Serve with pickle chips over soft rolls.  The usual accompaniments are cole slaw and extra barbecue sauce, but with a recipe this perfect, are entirely optional.  This can be the main course on soft sandwich rolls for 10 people, or when you’ve got a lot of other courses,  serve on those ubiquitous mini slider rolls for a great little appetizer for 20. 

When people say I’m a good cook,  I think, well, if you made these recipes, you would be too!  After a lifetime of trying new recipes, I think I can discern a good recipe from a bad one, but finding a great one among the good is a matter of trial and error. 

Here is one to definitely hold onto.  Proof:  my son said the other night after dinner - Mom, you can make this once a week! 

Perfect for a cold winter’s day staying in and watching the football game, this would also not be out of place at a summer barbecue. By the way, this reheats well, in case you really want to plan ahead, or in the lucky event you have leftovers!

Beginner’s Pulled Pork
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen,  Slow Cooker Revolution

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sweet paprika
1 rounded Tablespoon garlic powder
1 rounded Tablespoon onion powder
1 rounded Tablespoon ground cumin
1  ½ teaspoons cayenne (red) pepper
3 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt, or 1 ½ teaspoons regular table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 pieces boneless pork butt roast, 3 lbs each
1 ¼ cups barbecue sauce

Soft Rolls
Pickle chips
Optional:  cole slaw, additional barbecue sauce

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut up the pork roasts each into 3 pieces, cutting off and discarding any large pockets of fat.  Put the pork pieces into the bowl, and press the spice mixture into every surface of the pork, using all of it.  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours. 

Put the unwrapped pork pieces in a large oval slow cooker.  Distribute the barbecue sauce over all.  Cover and cook on high for 5 – 7 hours, or on low for 9 – 11 hours. 

When fork tender, shut off the heat, take out the pork onto a cutting board and pull or cut into large bite sized pieces.  Don’t overdo as it will further fall apart when mixed back into the sauce.  Discard any large pieces of fat or gristle. 

Defat the sauce by skimming off and discarding any clear pools of fat from the top of the sauce with a large flat spoon.  Add the pork back into the sauce.  Stir gently and turn the crock pot to the “Warm” setting. 

Serve over soft rolls with pickles; and with cole slaw and extra sauce if you like that sort of thing. 

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Not Cooking Light at the Moment